Water Avenue: A street solution? – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Water Avenue: A street solution?

Written July 19th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

From Montgomery Street eastward, sections of Water Avenue sport a fresh surface.

On a bike ride along the Albany riverfront, I could not help noticing that segments of Water Avenue now have a nice new surface. Could the same kind of treatment be a solution for the many old city streets where the potholes resemble craters on the moon?

The poor shape of many old residential streets is a common subject of complaints. The city administration says there’s never enough gas tax or other revenue to do much about it, and Mayor Sharon Konopa’s proposal for a 5-cent local gas tax has been put aside for now. House Bill 2017, the legislature’s package of higher taxes and fees to pay for transportation improvements, is supposed to boost the funds going to cities, but how that works out remains to be seen.

Parts of Water Avenue were never improved as a regular city street with asphalt paving and curbs and gutters. It was essentially a gravel road. Some years ago, the city applied an oil mat and then a “chip seal” treatment to the unimproved parts, and this worked out OK for quite a while. But recently potholes started growing, especially outside the gate where trucks turn in and out of the Parr Lumber yard.

“The surface had started to deteriorate, so we contracted to chip seal it again this year,” Chris Bailey told me. She’s the public works director for operations.

How does chip sealing differ from asphalt overlays? Here is the Ohio Department of Transportation’s explanation: “The difference is in the construction method. Hot mix asphalt pavement is produced by heating liquid asphalt and mixing it with aggregate, with the mix then spread and compacted to form a durable road structure and riding surface. Chip sealing uses the same ingredients as asphalt concrete paving, but the construction method is different. With chip seals, a thin film of heated asphalt liquid is sprayed on the road surface, followed by the placement of small aggregates (‘chips’). The chips are then compacted to orient the chips for maximum adherence to the asphalt, and excess stone is swept from the surface.”

I could not learn how much this treatment cost for the section of Water where it was applied, from Montgomery Street east nearly to the railroad trestle. The person at City Hall who likely has the information is on vacation, and nobody else seems to know.

But if regular paving is too expensive for the city, perhaps this method could be tried to return at least the worst of the old streets to a drivable condition. If it works for Water Avenue, why would it not work for streets where traffic is less and conditions are worse? (hh)



5 responses to “Water Avenue: A street solution?”

  1. hj.anony1 says:

    You may need to get out more often HH. Bike or no bike. :)

    In the past week, I’ve noticed numerous places of small sectional sealing to entire “Places” off off “Streets”.

    Hot Diggity..people employed, improvements to the commons and TAX $$$ spent HERE!

    ….now this is LIVING, my friends.

  2. Brad says:

    When I lived in rural NJ, all the back roads were chip sealed. After a couple of months, they were like new blacktop and lasted several years with truck traffic and all. The cost is significantly lower but I’m not sure about the prep for the first time. From Google…

    Chip Seals costs much less than asphalt ($2.50 per square yard for Chip Seal, compared with around $12.50 per square yard of ½ inch thick asphalt). Chip Seals work best to preserve pavement that is in good condition. This is why the base of each street is repaired and paved with asphalt before the Chip Seal is applied.
    CHIP SEAL INFORMATION Asphalt Overlays vs. Chip Seals The …

  3. Sidney Cooper says:

    The state of older residential roads in the city is shameful. Don’t remember a time it was worse. No project dollars to shift? No needs re-prioritizing? The City Council seems to be staring at an empty cookie jar and not much else. What we need to do is make our road problems more inclusive of reality, acknowledging the diversity of problems to treat, there by establishing harmonious relations with all city drivers.

  4. Bill Kapaun says:

    Chip seal can fill in small cracks etc. and greatly extend the life of streets.
    In Winter, water can get in the cracks & freeze, causing the cracks to enlarge at an accelerated rate.
    Apparently the City would rather spend their money for downtown parking for the merry go round.
    It just means the rest of us are going to have to pay “BIG TIME” in the future when our residential streets need a premature REBUILD.

  5. James Engel says:

    As to improving Water Ave, wasn’t there a conflict with the RR over how much property they would give up so the street would be widened? Few people today might recall that in the area of Parr Lumber was a deep ditch used for years to dump garbage. In fact the whole length of the bank along the close in downtown was used a dump. Prime bottle hunting area! While some might fret over Water Ave how about improving 5th Ave SE. That would almost qualify as a moto-cross track!…JE


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